I.P.A. taste test: ‘15 bottles of beer on the wall’…
My bro Paul (www.paulgozzo.blogspot.com) recently gave me a great gift of mixed I.P.A bottles, so I had to document the taste test (over the course of about 2 weeks), as well as add a couple other IPAs that I have had recently to the review.
As any aficionado of I.P.A will likely agree, there is a quality difference between a fresh brew-pub IPA draft, like Bottle Rocket IPA at Portsmouth Brewery in NH (http://portsmouthbrewery.blogspot.com), which I will consider an ‘11’ vs. this bottle taste test scale of 1-10, or a Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA fresh on draft, also an 11, and anything bottled.
So the following is how these IPAs in bottles stacked up in my ranks (in no particular order), and taste profile, based on this taste test:
Mojo- Boulder beer company. This IPA has some great citrus zest, a bit of orange rind, but is short on hops. It is refreshing, and could be enjoyed even into summer, but if you were looking for that big hop taste, it’s not here, so score is a 6.5
Hopfish- Flying fish brewing co. A decent hop taste, with a bit of lemon zest, and light enough to be enjoyed into Spring, kind of like Mojo. Overall good drinkability, but not the brewpub hop bomb that I’m looking for sometimes. An ok 6.
Bison- Ukiah, CA. A nice smooth IPA, and the beer has an almost orange hued copper tone. Again, no big bang hops, but a well blended mix of 3 hops and very smooth, plus it’s organic, so a 7 for this beer.
Southern Tier- not sure why it’s called that, when the brewery is in NY, but it hits the hops on the head. I read the label and learned that it is brewed with 4 hops and 4 malts, well that 4th hop must make a difference (Bison had 3 hops), because this one had just the right hoppiness to score a high 9.
Shipyard- Fuggles IPA- a tasty IPA from this infamous Maine brewery. It has a unique, if heavy, taste that reminds me of summers on the Maine/ NH coast. It is a good beer, deep copper, but not quite the hopper I’m looking for in my IPA round-up, so I have to drop it to a 6.5
Hop Karma Brown IPA- Terrapin (Athens, GA). With that name, cool label, and Athens base and all, this ought to be good beer, and it is… A ‘brown ipa’, so it sort of tastes like a black & tan. The label says 5 varieties of hops and 7 malts, wow. And it claims “a head on collision between a hoppy west coast IPA and a malty, complex brown ale”. Well, the brown ale won that collision. It isn’t a hop bomber, but a very smooth beer of dynamic originality and it stands on it’s own, so, I have to give it an 8 here.
Indica- Lost Coast brew (Eureka, CA). Another great label. I’ve had this 1 before, there’s a sweet finish to this beer. This would go great with some tacos from Jalisco in Eureka. Smooth and full-bodied, sure, but not quite “radically hopped” as it claims. Still, it’s a good beer, and another sweet 7.
Avery Brewing co.- Boulder, CO. A good, if basic IPA that claims a “citrusy, floral bouquet” and delivers that. They also write on the label: “by hop heads, for hop heads” - not quite, but I like the balance in hops for having more than 1, so score it 7.5
Hop Ottin’ IPA- Anderson Valley Brew co./ Boonville (Mendocino county, CA). A great beer from wine country, and apparently from a solar powered brewery (www.avbc.com). The label has some ‘Anderson Valley dialect’ boasting “In an intriguing balance, sun-drenched malts coat rich hop undertones”. I like this beer a lot, despite that it isn’t a hop-bomb, and have to give it a solid 8.
Eel River- (Scotia, CA) This beer is certified organic, and Eel River was the 1st in US to earn that distinction. I’ve had this beer before (as well as many other good IPAs that didn’t make this review), and I like it. I drank it with some spicy Penang curry and it held up. In the scope of this lengthy taste test, it keeps pace and it’s in the mix @ 7.5
Lagunitas- (Petaluma, CA) Something about this bottle, maybe the large stamped letters on the front: IPA, told me that this is going to be a good 1… and it is. This beer doesn’t focus on some floral bouquet upfront, or citrus effects, but cuts straight to the hops (see beer advocate info. here: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/220/916/). The simple type print on the bottle calls out a “raging hop character”, and it’s close. 8
Saranac- (Adirondack, NY) Another great beer from the makers of my favorite Black & Tan. The label tells you that it “is very hoppy in both aroma and flavor from the generous amounts of cascade hops…” and it is, because they don’t try to dance with bouquets, so it scores a straightforward 8.
Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA- read above that it is high-ranking on draft (11!), but in the bottle it comparatively disappoints, if slightly (and if expected). With better distribution now, this may be the best IPA on your grocery shelf. Named after Dogfish Head, Maine (even though the brewery is in Delaware?), this brewery has some great beers. I give the 60 minute IPA in a bottle a solid 8.
Harpoon IPA- from Boston and Vermont(?), and a better than average IPA with decent hops, but not a dynamic taste profile and sometimes heavy. This IPA will always do ok with some chips & salsa, but if you are stepping up the menu, you may want to step up the IPA. Overall only about a 6 on my bottled IPA scale, though one that I frequently drink due to availability.
Stone- (Escondido, CA www.stonebrew.com) I’ve never been to their brewpub, but I’d like to go. From the makers of the ‘Bastard Ales’, the Stone IPA is perfection of hops in a bottle. They claim, “If you’re a hop-head like us, then you’ll love our Stone India Pale Ale! Medium malt character with a heavy dose of over the top hops! Generous “dry hopping” gives this beer its abundant hop aroma and crisp hop flavor.” This is it, a 10 in a bottle (maybe an 11 if I had a draft). Cheers.